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A New Kind of Soup

“So Brian, what does your grandfather do again?”

Brian is a young man who helps around the farm who actually knows something about farming. “He takes the chicken poop, puts it in a feed bag in a 55-gallon drum, and adds water. Then, he takes a stick and stirs it around. He’s been doing that for years and it really makes the plants grow!” (Imagine this conversation with absolutely no expression on his 20-year-old face and a real southern drawl.)

“Okay, I want some chicken poop soup. Will you help me make it?”

I thought I’d stepped out of my comfort zone when I processed one of our hens who’d been played with to death by our livestock guardian dogs and made chicken pie. (It was NOT good, by the way–never eat a chicken after it’s been played with by big white dogs for an hour. Lesson learned.) But chicken poop soup…who knew?

I am famous for taking almost anything from my refrigerator and making something palatable for dinner. My kids often said I should host a TV show called, “Clean Out the Refrigerator Cooking.” (I am willing dear television producer.) But chicken poop soup is way off their radar, too.

We decided on a gray garbage can. “Where do you want me to put it?” Brian asked.

“Good question.” Where does one keep such a concoction. “Put it near the driveway but not too near the house.”

Brian mixed it up. I gawked as he filled the white feed sack with North Carolina Gold. Then he added water. Next he swished it up and down in the can and poked a stick in the bag several times. Brown liquid seeped out of the sack.

What can I say, but I was impressed. Impressed Brian knew about the soup. Amazed at his resourcefulness. Touched by the knowledge handed down from one generation to the next.

I’ve learned a lot from the people around me. I’ve learned that a bush hog is not a pig in the woods, I’ve learned not to lift your hand at a poultry auction to scratch your face, and that it’s okay to hold up the line in the store a bit to find out how a person really is doing.

I’d like to think I could teach them a few things. Like ordering at Starbucks. Or wearing your sandals all the way to the sand at the beach in August if you want to avoid 3rd degree burns, or cutting across 8 lanes of traffic to pull into your favorite restaurant.

Those things are good to know, too.

But for now, my soup is stewing. I just don’t know how to get it out of the can.



Seasonal Worship

Light peeked through the fake wood blinds. Breakfast finished, Mom cleaned up. The dishes miraculously made it into the dishwasher. Time to worship.

I scooted the lift chair toward Mom’s hospital bed. Two speakers were stuffed under the bedside table which held my computer.

“Okay, Mom, are you ready?” I looked into her 94-year-old eyes. Once clear and bright, now red and watery. She nodded.

I clicked the button to connect via the Internet with The congregation I attended in Florida for over 25 years. The worship leader began with To God Be The Glory. One of my favorites by Fanny Crosby. Next was And Can It Be. I belted them out with my out-of-practice-alto-pretending-to-be-soprano voice. Mom piped in occasionally with her once-strong-soprano-turned-salty-bass voice. Together, we sounded heavenly–at least to God.

Why? Because the Lord knew our hearts. We worshiped. From Mom in her bed to me tucked into her lift chair, our spirits soared with songs of praise to God Almighty. The Lord knows Mom can’t go to service anymore. So we stay home. And He’s okay with that.

Since we moved to the foothills of North Carolina, I’ve been able to experience the seasons again. I hadn’t realized how much I missed them while in Florida until I moved to our farm.

The changing seasons remind me of my life. There was the Bratty Kid Season (Tom would argue that I still visit that season). Then I had the Try Not To Get Kicked Out Of Asbury College Season, followed by the Marriage and Can’t Wait For The Kids To Grow Up Season. Then the dreaded Teenager Season intermingled with the Caregiving Season.

I’m still in the caregiving season. Dad’s caregiving season ended about seven years ago. And although I knew the end was near, his passage to heaven surprised me. Same with my childhood and college days and parenting days. One day they were there, the next day they were gone.

The truth about seasons is you can’t make them stay. One moves on to the next since the timing is from God. Same with our lives. This season with my mother seems so long sometimes. Hard. For me and for her.

I don’t want to rush through this time. I’m older and I pray a bit wiser, so I want to take this one slow. I don’t want to have regrets of complaining or impatience of moving to another time without enjoying the time I have now.

We listened to my Florida pastor. I even jotted a few notes. We prayed when he prayed.

“Your pastor did a good job,” mom said after I clicked out of the site.

Tom arrived home and we cradled our lunches on our laps as we prepared to say the blessing.

“How was your day of worship, Tom?”

“Good. How about yours.”


Mom smiled and so did I.

I’d like to share another song we sang during the worship time taken from the book of Job. Because you can worship right now. No matter where you are or what season it is.

Who has held the oceans in His hands?

Who has numbered every grain of sand?
Kings and nations tremble at His voice
All creation rises to rejoice

Behold our God seated on His throne

Come let us adore Him
Behold our King nothing can compare
Come let us adore Him!

Who has given counsel to the Lord?

Who can question any of His Words?
Who can teach the One who knows all things?
Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds?

Who has felt the nails upon His hands

Bearing all the guilt of sinful man?
God eternal humbled to the grave
Jesus, Savior risen now to reign!

Men: You will reign forever!

Women: Let Your glory fill the earth



Newest Grit Blog–Dating the Farmer

Who knew talking about chickens on our date could be so romantic?


A Farmer’s Wife on a Date

3/10/2014 12:06:00 PM

By Pauline Hylton

Tags: Tractor SupplyLowes Home ImprovementWalmartDateBudgetSecondhand LionsPauline Hylton

Cultivating a DreamYou know you’re a farmer’s wife when you go on a date to an actual restaurant that serves you food that you neither cooked nor grew and you talk about chicken poop.

And you’re OK with that.

That’s what Tom and I did the other day. I needed a break. A place where people talked and lived and worked without dirt.

So my husband took me to the local Thai restaurant.

After our appetizer, I quieted. My mind drifted back to our farm and our chickens and dogs and kittens and crops.

It’s not that I don’t love all those things. Sometimes, I just need a break.

During the Golden Noodles (Thai spicy), we talked about chicken poop. How to improve our coop, make it cleaner – our birds healthier.

Because we’re cultivating our dream. Watching it appear before our eyes. We’re building it together

When we first talked about farming, we both agreed that retirement was over rated. Like the two old guys in “Secondhand Lions,” we want to die with our boots on. We’ve told our children to till us into the ground – and we mean it.

Because we love what we are doing. We see how the Lord is blessing us and every morning it makes us smile. Makes us want to get out of bed.

After our dinner, we went to my new mall: Tractor Supply for chicken food, Lowe’s Home Improvement, and “The Walmart.”

We blew our restaurant budget for the month, so I guess I’ll be cooking. And maybe I won’t have my next meltdown until next month. We can’t afford it.

But we’re rich.

My farmer family


Small Town–Big Heart, A Day in the Life of a Farmer’s Wife, Day 10

Go over to my Grit Magazine Blog to read my latest entry in, “Cultivating a Dream.”

Horse Talk, A Day in the Life of a Farmer’s Wife Day 7

“So let me get this straight.” I collected my thoughts as I leaned on the massive horse trailer my neighbor owned–one of many. “If I go into the fence where the horses are and they don’t hate me, they probably won’t kick me, right?”

Jamie nodded and looked at me. “Right.”

“It’s okay if I go into the pen isn’t it?”


I asked him if I could ride a horse and maybe if my friends could ride when they visited.

“No problem.”

“And do you have the stuff to ride with?”

He patiently explained, “It’s called tack. I have about 35 different saddles and bridles and stuff. That’s what I do. I buy horses and equipment and sell them.”


I thought only people in westerns were in that profession. I asked about the horse I’d fallen in love with–the one with the blue eyes. He explained how he starts them in the pasture on our property when he first buys them and then transfers them to another 20-acre pasture he leases that has actual grass.

I’d missed them yesterday. There’s something both stately and comforting to look out your bedroom window and see two horses grazing.

“You won’t recognize him when I bring him back. He’ll look just like those horses.” He pointed to the healthy looking ones in back of his house. “The white one there is nice.”

“What’s her name?”

“Horse. She’s for sale.”

I pouted. “I really love that blue-eyed horse you had here.”

“He’ll be back. He came from a family of young-uns who let the horse do what he wanted.”

“I need you to help me learn how to make a horse do what I want.”

“I can help you with that.”

I couldn’t help but smile. “When you see that blue-eyed horse, tell him I asked about him.”

“I will.”

I think Jamie smiled too.